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Weld County Planning and Zoning

Weld County Planning Process

The Weld County planning process is designed to provide a consistent review of individual land-use matters. The Department of Planning Services staff, Board of Adjustment, Weld County Planning Commission, and Board of County Commissioners are the four groups responsible for making planning decisions in Weld County. The Comprehensive Plan, Zoning, Planned Unit Development, Mixed Unit Development, and Subdivision Ordinances coupled with any Intergovernmental Agreements (IGA’s), are the essential documents describing the Weld County Planning review and decision making processes. These documents are adopted as ordinances in accordance with the Weld County Ordinance Procedure set Forth in Article III Section 3-14 of the Home Rule Charter.

The Weld County Department of Planning Services welcomes the opportunity to discuss the planning process with interested persons. Most initial discussions and inquiries about the Weld County planning process, including land-use applications, site plan review procedures and the zone district classifications, begin with the Department of Planning Services. The following is a summary of the most common land use planning processes:

Recorded Exemption

 A Recorded Exemption subdivides land that is not in an approved Subdivision. This process is accomplished through procedures located in the Subdivision Ordinance. Examples of when a Recorded Exemption application may be submitted include creating a lot in the agricultural zone district for a single family residential building site, separating existing improvements from agricultural land, and creating a lot in a commercial or industrial zone district for existing or future development. Under normal circumstances, a Recorded Exemption is processed in 45 - 60 days and is approved administratively (by Planning Staff).

Subdivision Exemption

A Subdivision Exemption is a process with the intent of dividing a parcel, or interest in a parcel, does not result in the creation of a new residential or permanent building site, adjustment of property lines between two contiguous parcels, creation of lots for the purpose of financing, or for the temporary use of a parcel for public utility facilities. This process is accomplished through procedures located in the Subdivision Ordinance. Under normal circumstances, a Subdivision Exemption is processed in 45 - 60 days and is approved administratively (by Planning Staff).

Minor Subdivision

A Minor Subdivision is a procedure for subdividing a tract of land into no more than five lots. This process is accomplished through procedures located in the Subdivision Ordinance. A Minor Subdivision is composed of a three-step process including the Sketch Plan, Change of Zone, and Final Plat applications. Under normal circumstances, a Minor Subdivision is processed in 150 - 195 days and includes both administratively approved and Board approved steps.

Planned Unit Development

A Planned Unit Development (PUD) is a zoning district that includes an area of land, controlled by one or more landowners, to be developed under unified control or unified plan of development. Development through PUD may include a combination of development, such as dwelling units, commercial, educational, recreational, or industrial uses. The PUD process provides flexibility in development. This process is accomplished through the PUD Ordinance. Under normal circumstances, a PUD is processed in 165 -285 days and includes both administratively approved and Board approved steps.

Use by Special Review

A Use by Special Review (USR) are uses which have been determined to be more intense or to have a potentially greater impact than those allowed by right in a particular zone district. Those USR applications require additional consideration to ensure they are compatible and operated in a manner that is compatible with existing and planned land uses of surrounding property. This process is accomplished through the Zoning Ordinance. Under normal circumstances, a USR is processed in 90-120 days and includes both administratively approved and Board approved steps. 

Site Plan Review

A Site Plan Review (SPR) procedure provides present and future residents and users of land in the county a means whereby orderly and harmonious development is ensured. SPRs require additional consideration to ensure the uses permitted are established and operated in a manner compatible with existing and planned land uses of surrounding property. Under normal circumstances, a SPR is processed in 45 - 60 days and is approved administratively (by Planning Staff).

Agriculture & Land Use

The agricultural industry is an important element in the Weld County economy. The market value of agricultural products and the chain of purchases related to agricultural production contribute significantly to the County’s economy. Every dollar that the farmer spends to increase agricultural production creates additional dollars spent on activities related to production. Food processing and related products contribute significantly to the manufacturing economy of Weld County. There are additional impacts to other areas of the economy such as retail and wholesale trade and transportation services.

Croplands in the agricultural district also provide natural open-space areas. A principal benefit derived from open space is relief from more intense urban uses conducted in a municipality. Open-space buffers help maintain a sense of rural identity and diversity. These buffers also allow communities to maintain separate identities, while preserving productive farmland. As a secondary benefit, farmland preservation helps to maintain natural systems and natural processes. These include the preservation of wetlands, small watersheds, aquifer recharge areas, flood plains, and special wildlife habitats. While farming has the potential to damage sensitive natural areas and processes, farming can and should be a completely compatible use. Most farming operations are sensitive to these natural systems and processes and may even enhance them.

Coupled with the goals and policies of the Comprehensive Plan, the intent of weld County’s Right To Farm is to recognize the impact Farming and Ranching operations have on the County’s economy and the historical land use patterns.

Additional Information

Department of Planning Services

1555 North 17th Avenue

Greeley, CO 80631

(970) 353-6100 ext. 3540

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